Saturday, April 28, 2012

And Then What?

Government policy decisions of yesteryear had limited impact on the world –at large because of far fewer people and less potent technology.  Today we have both the population numbers and technical means to impose truly environment changing (even earth shaking) actions on our planet. 

We now live in an age where it is no longer appropriate for our leaders to make decisions and proposals whose consequences do not look beyond the next election and well into the future.  To ignore future ramifications is irresponsible.  In life as in the game of Chess, if you leave yourself no resources for the end of the game, you lose.  Are we expecting the second coming to occur before we reach our end game here on earth?  I require personal responsibility of myself and those around me and sometimes dream that government might do the same.  These dreams are usually pretty unpleasant as we seem to have all but lost the traditional approach of leading by example.

Two of today's biggest political issues are the economy (jobs) and the national debt.  Many solutions have been mentioned, but I don't recall any of them including a conclusion…an end game…a happy ending (?):

·                     More jobs – then what?  More production requires the use of more resources to supply more people – driving up costs and leading to the need for ever more jobs.  And then what?  Is there any end in sight?  Perhaps a better approach would be to reduce population to a point where there was a job for everyone (!).  Our civilization has no rules for the game of life…notice that we limit the individual use of water and at the same time build more dams to supply more water.  Why do we need to limit water use?  Is it so that we can squeeze more people on to the planet, build them more suburbs, sell them more stuff, and tax them to build more dams?

·                     If we zero out the national debt – then what?  Do we start all over again?  Swear supply off borrowing forever?  Do we just let future generations struggle with the whole mess?  Is the idea that it's OK to be head over heels in debt?  That's just not my inclination – I find myself repelled by too much dependency and attracted towards self-sufficiency.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I've never been much of a follower and with the quality of leadership on display these days it's easy to see why.  I'm thinking about leadership in many forms – political, journalistic, professional, parental, …what is perplexing is that it seems that too many of those with the great responsibility are the ones lacking in what (for me at least) are essential qualities for notable leadership. There is good and bad in all of us and I don't expect all good from anyone, but the following key qualities are all too often either lacking or absent altogether:

Empathy – For others, for life, for the world around us.  The odds are very high that the person being denigrated is just about as intelligent, caring, thoughtful, and worthwhile as the accuser – and may even be a better cut of humanity to begin with (at least they're not doing the denigrating!). I find it presumptuous to assume others are somehow inferior.  Have you ever seen someone put down because they had a different viewpoint on things?  Or their right to free speech interrupted by protests?  Empathy can be applied to other life forms as well.  Have you ever seen a snake or other defenseless creature killed just because it was itself?  And it is still possible to feel empathy for the habitat and resources that help life to exist and flourish in the first place.  Have you ever seen someone throw trash on the ground or in the water?

Accountability –  There seems to be a shift away from personal responsibility and toward blaming others.  Perhaps this is the result of the continuous shift away from individualism and towards governing policies that inevitably tend to encourage the status quo by creating a kind of level playing field.  I think each of us needs to be accountable for our actions – no matter how severe the repercussions.  I am unappreciative of others pressuring the way I live, work, and think.

Vision   This is related to "class" as well as the notion of  "inclusion versus exclusion." I want to hear the pros and cons of all sides of issues with no distortion and no name calling whatsoever (name calling is usually a substitute for any meaningful analysis).  I don't want to be told how to think – I am capable of making my own judgments.  Most propositions are terribly short sighted and mired in short term personal gain rather than anticipating the long term greater good.  Teachers vote for education, minorities vote for each other, and union members vote the union endorsed line.  It appears to me that most people with quick black and white judgments usually lack depth of vision and are disappointingly superficial.  The world is too complex to lend itself to very many simple, clear cut solutions and policies of inclusion rather than exclusion can be valuable ways of viewing the world.  It's like trying to decide whether to play zone or man-to-man – even if the best choice is made initially, circumstances can change requiring adjustments, a complete tactical reversal, or a creative combination of tactics.